Samuel Abraham Walker.

The Church of England mission in Sierra Leone: including an introductory ... online

. (page 71 of 73)
Online LibrarySamuel Abraham WalkerThe Church of England mission in Sierra Leone: including an introductory ... → online text (page 71 of 73)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


ttmuse them ; and that thus they would at the same time be initiated,
though but slowly, into the mystery of speaking their language out of
txM)ks, as they see me do every Lord's-day. The simple-hearted
children were quite pleased with this new art : and soon blocked me
up in their midst to see me point to the moon-like O, and the serpent-
like S. Althongh the men and women were at liberty to go away after
Service, yet they remained to see these wonderful letters. When I
iras about to return home, some of the poor children fell on their
hce9 to thank me for teaching them the white man's book : this mode
of shewing respect I hope hereafter to alter to the more conTcnient
£nglish custom,

*' J^ne 1, 1845 — ^I preached this momihg, under the tree, to a*
congregation of IdO persons. As usual, I taught the children from
the alphabet-board. Having made a translation of the Litany, I
introduced it in the Church at the evening Service. I have hitherto
used the ten Commandments in the place of it, both at the Morning
and Evening Service^ We hope the Morning and Evening prayers
will soon come into their proper places, according to the order of our
beloved Church."

The Church was opened by Mr. Gollmer, on the 9th of March,
and in the ailemoon Mr. Townsend preached through an interpreter,
to about sixty natives. On the same day, previous to Morning
Service, a Sunday school was opened with about forty scholars.

Mr. Townsend and Mr. Gollmer were under the disadvantage when
addressing the people, of speaking by an interpreter : Mr. Marsh the
native catechist, usually acting in that capacity ; nevertheless they had
the gratification of preaching to considerable bodies of the people, who
always Hstened to them with the greatest attention. These finithful
men likewise paid visits to the different chiefs in the neighbourhood,
to obtain their consent and assistance for assembling their people to
hear the blessed message of life eternal. One or two extracts from
their journals will exemplify their proceedings on such occasions. Mr.
Townsend says :

'* May 18 — ^This morning I went to the Portuguese Chiefs house,
in order to obtain, if possible, a hearing for the word of God from
him and his people. I there met the principal Chiefs of Badagry,
assembled in council, each Chief with a goodly number of attendants.
I apologized for coming when they were assembled in council, of which
I was not aware. As they wished me to sit down, I asked if I might
be permitted to say that which I came to deliver ; to which assent
was readily given. I then addressed them, through Mr. Marsh, who
acted as interpreter, on the fall of man, and his redemption through



Digitized by



Google



572 CHURCH MISSION IN SIERRA LEONB.

the one sacrifice of Christ Jesus. After I had finislied, I asked
permission to pray that God would grant us His blessing ; to wliich,
also, thej readily assented. I then engaged in prayer, Mr. Aiarah
following me in the Yoruba language : during the prayer, Amen was
frequently audibly pronounced by one of the Chiefs, using the native
word."

We have before adverted to one of the Chiefs, who was styled the
Euglish Chief of Badagry : this man, whose name was Wawu, had
received the Missionaries very kindly, and promised to facilitate their
efforts for the instruction of his people. Mr. Gollmer refers to him in
the following extract from his journal :

" June 8 — ^Wawn informed me, last evening, that the death of one
of his family would call him from home, and that I, therefore, must
not come as arranged last Lord's Day. On hearing this» I went to
Letn, another Chief, and a relative of the King of Lagos. Leta
received me gladly, and had no objection whatever to my speaking to
his people. I first acquainted him, again, with the object of our
coming to this country, and of our living among them ; and then
told him, that this was the Lord's-day, on which, we always assemble
for Divine Worship. ' And therefore,' I said, ' I have come this
morning to see whether you will permit me to assemble your people,
and speak to them a few words about God.' Letu replied, that all was
good, and that I might speak to them. He wished me to begb at
once ; but as the room in which we were was rather confined, and aU
the people were not assembled, I requested him to allow me to have
Service in his yard, and also to wait a little until all his people should
have come, which was willingly complied with. Letu and three of his
principal men seated themselves on the floor, as usual, under an open
piazza, and the people arranged themselves around us, some
sitting, some lying, and some standing. I began the Service by
reading the Lord's prayer, and the ten Commandments, in the
Toruba language. After this, I read my sermon, which my interpreter
translated. The people, 125 in number, were, on the whole, atten-
tive ; but all I said — I spoke from John iii. 16 — appeared to be
entirely new to them all. The Chief and others several times repeated
the word * Jesus,' while my interpreter endeavoured to make its
meaning very plain to them. When I had finished, the Chief and
people thanked me much ; saying, that what I had said, was good,
and that they trusted God would make them hear and understand
more by and by. One among the number said, ' We see the sun rise,
and go down ; but we cannot tell who it is that has ordered it so. We
see the moon, stars, &c., and we know there must be One greater
than we ; but we cannot tell, we do not know him.' On hearing this,
I told them, that, in times past, white man's country was like their's



Digitized by



Google



VISIT TO ABBEOKOUTA. 573

now ; that white inan> at that time, had idols of wood and stone, just
as the Yorabas had now, and the * living and true Grod * they did not
know. * But,' I continued^ '* when Missionaries came, and brought
that same book which we have brought here ; when they preached
from that book to the people, as I have preached this morning here ;
and when the people acted according to that which was preached to
them ; then they learned that their idols could do them no good,
and that the great God must be another God than one made of wood
and stone ; and thus they came to know * the living and true God.'
They prayed to that God, war ceased, peace was established, and so,
by and by, the country became a Christian country. To make your
country the same as white man's is why we come here, and why we
wish to preach this Word of God to you.' * All this is good ; this is
what we wish ; we want you to teach us,' was their reply. I was
much gratified by this substantial encouragement to carry on our hdy
vork."

It being considered advisable that a visit should be paid to Abbeo-
kouta, to learn the actual state of things there, Mr. W. Marsh, native
catechist, set out for that place on the 9th of June, and on the 24th he
wrote to the brethren at Badagry, as follows :

*' By the mercy of God I reached Abbeokouta on the 14th of June,
just at the conclusion of the burial of Sodeke. Oro is to conclude
the burial of snch great men. Women are shut up during seven days*
If a woman, either by mistake or willingly, should come out at such a
time, she is put to death. There is no ransom nor pardon for any.
Three men were executed ; one a murderer, aud the other two thieves :
the women believe that the god of Oro swallowed them. As far as
things can be, the people are busy in setting things in order here.
Many persons are in prison, and are likely to be put to death.
Children go freely about. Food is in abundance, perhaps more than
four times cheaper than at Badagry. Most of the people are very
industrious. Cowries are much valued, and rare. No one is allowed
to oppress the weak. I have visited some of the principal of the
Chiefs. They spoke very favourably of the Missionaries, and told me
some of the chief hindnmces why they have not sent for them. They
are now at peace with the people in the interior. There has been no
disturbance in any of the villages belonging to Abbeokouta. The
people partly know the intention of the Missionaries, and are glad to
have their children taught. They generally call the English men of
truth, and men who know the true God. They speak very highly of
the English, and love them. Idolatry flourishes here to a great
degree. There is a sacrifice in my family almost every day : I assure
them that, if they call my name before the idol, I will remove from
the famOy to Wilhelm's ; otherwise, they might perhaps sacrifice



Digitized by



Google



574 CHURCH MISSION IN SIERRA LEONE.

8heq>, goats, and fowls, on my account : their seeing me again is as-
cribed to the power of their god.

" They haTe elected a new Chief> by the name of Ayikondn. I
hare not yet seen hhn.

*' Excuse my fiiulty letter. If I should find a person williiig to
bring you a letter, I will write you a better one. llie bearer of this
came to me unawares. No person is willing to bring a letter throogh
to Badagiy as a messenger.'*

At the dose of the year 1845, the Missionaries had not been able
to proceed beyond Badagry, but had continued the services there with
considerable success, as regards the attendance of the natives, who
to the number of two hundred and fifty, usually assembled on the
Lord's Day with the sixty native Christians from Sierra Leone. By
the latest communication received from the Mission, the pleasing
intelligence is conveyed that the way to Abbeokouta was at lei^th
opened, and that the Chiefs of that district had invited the Mission-
aries thither. Some of the latter were then preparing to embrace the
opportunity thus afforded ; but several months may elapse before any-
further information can reach this country, as communication with the
Colony is at present very precarious.

One death occurred among the Badagry Missionaries ibis year»
that of Mrs. GoUmer, wife of the Bev. C. A. Gollmer ; on the 11th of
April, after a painM illness of three months. Her end was peace.
The Rev. S. Crowther writes :

" This is the first Christian funeral that has ever been publicly per-
formed in this country. Many of the Natives, out of curiosity, ae-
companied us to the Church and to the burial ground, to witness the
burial of a Christian. Though our dear sister is dead, yet she speaks
to the Natives around, and shows the difference between the death of
a saint and that of a heathen. The scene of this day will not soon
wear away from the minds of those who were present — about 150
persons. The Chiefs, having been informed of our mournful bereave-
ment, sent their messengers to express their sympathy with us:
although no worshippers of the great God who made all things, yet
they invariably ascribed this afflictive visitation to the providence of
God, who knew and ordered all the events of lifb in His secret wis-
dom. Truly, although they know Him as God, ' they glorify Him
not as God ;' but become vain in their imaginations, and their fi>olish
heart is darkened."

We must now return to Sierra Leone, and take up the last three
months of the year 1845.
Two weddings occurred in the Missionary corps in October ; the first



Digitized by



Google



SUBSCRIPTIOKS FOB SIB FOWBLL BUZTOK's IIONUMBNT. 575

took place on the 2nd of tlie month> when the Rev. Edward Jones
entered again into the married state, and was united to Miss Meta
WOkins, sister to the lamented Mrs. Bultmann, whose decease we
shall mention presently. The ceremony was performed hj the Rey.
F. Bnltmann in the new Mission Church, Freetown. All the Mission-
aries> with a few exceptions, were present ; as was also his Excellency
the GoTemor. The second we hare already adverted to : it occurred
on the 28th, when the Rev. J. Smith was united to Miss A. C. Morris,
the faithful superintendant of the female Institution at Regent. The
Rev. J. F. Shon solemnized the marriage at Regent, from whence
Mrs. Smith of course removed with her husband to Bathurst.

Among the matters of general interest, may be mentioned a subscrip-
tion set on foot throughout the different villages, towards defraying
the expenses of a monument to the lamented Sir T. Fowell Buxtim, in
Westminster Abbey. Neither the Hberated Africans nor the Colony-
bom inhabitants of Sierra Leone, appeared insensible of the vast debt
of gratitude which Africa owed to that unwearied friend of the negro
race, and several pleasing instances occurred on the present occasion, of
their readiness to acknowledge it. The Rev. J. Warburton writing
from Gloucester under date of Nov. 24 ; mentions his having called a
meeting of his people to explain the nature and object of the collection
going on in the Colony, and that it was very numerously attended,
although there happened to be at the same time a funeral at Regent.
He thus proceeds :

'* I did not address them in vain, for they most cheerfully came
forward and offered their contributions. The amount received from
Leicester is ten shillings ; and from Gloucester, ^l : 10 : 0. These are
small sums, it must be acknowledged, but it must also be remembered
that they are given feelingly and cheerfully, and there k some truth
in the declaration of one of them — " Master ; we like that man, he do
us good. Suppose we have more, we can give more, but we no have
so much."

The Sunday school children were not behind their parents in senti-
ments of gratitude and esteem. Thomas King, native schoolmaster
at Freetown, thus writes :

** The progress which the scholars are making, is very encouraging.
With pleasure, I am happy to state the forwardness evinced hy them
of expressing their thankfolness for the means they enjoy. When in-
formed of the intention of making a subscription for the erection of a
monument in memory of that much- valued friend of the Africans,
the late lamented Sir Thomas Fowell Buxton, who not only did
liberally devote his substance, but with unremitting assiduity, laboured
for the religious improvement and welfare of the Africans; and to
whose kindness, and the others, under God, thousands of us in the



Digitized by



Google



576 CHURCH MISSION IN SIERRA LEONB.

Colony are indebted for our liberation ; with cheerfulness they gave as
they could : it amounted to no less than S'2 : 10 : 8. a sum fiir exceed-
ing what we reasonably expected, when compared with the number we
have at present."

At a special meeting of Missionaries held at Freetown on the 9th of
December, the Rev. J. Smith handed in the sum of £S : 8 : 3 from the
inhabitants of Bathurst and Charlotte, towards the same object, and he
mentioned that his people brought their contributions with the greatest
cheerMness, exclaiming — as he reminded them of the adrantages
which they enjoyed through the instrumentality of him in whose
honor the monument was sought to be raised— ''True, master, that
man was the best friend black man ever had, thank God, thank God
for that." The inhabitants of Charlotte were then contributing to-
wards the purchase of materials to make a pall for the town, aud they
soon placed in the hands of Mrs. Smith some excellent black Tclvet
and white silk, of which she got the school-girls to make the artide re-
quired, which cost about £5.

On the 10th of NoTember was laid the foundation of a new! church
at Kent, where for ^veral years the members of the Church had
worshipped in a miserable building, which Mr. Haastrup, in his
journal, describes, as not only very uncomfortable, but also extremely
indecent : " In fact," he says, " it looks more like a cow-house than a
Church ; and," he continues, " I was not much surprised at this, when
I heard that it was erected several years ago, at the expense of {^5."
So dissatisfied were the inhabitants with this state of things, that as
Joseph King, native schoolmaster, informs us, many of them were
thinking of removing to some other village, which enjoyed, as they
thought, more of the Church Missionary Society's favor than^ Kent.
However, they are no doubt by this time gratified with a commodious
stone edifice, more worthy of Him to whose service it is dedicated, and
agreeable to their feelings, as His worshippers. Mr. Haastrup in-
forms us that it is situated on a delightful spot.

A new Mission-house was erected at Waterloo, under the auspices of
the Rev. C. F. Frey ; and he and Mrs. Frey removed into it on the i8th
of October, to their great satisfaction and comfort. The monthly
Missionary prayer-meeting was held in it on the 5th of November,
" when," writes Mr. Frey, " twelve members of our mission-family
were present on the occasion; the largest body of Europeans,"^ he
adds, "ever assembled at this distant station, for the purpose of
offering up prayers and supplications for the extension of our Saviour^s
kingdom." We must not omit here, Mr. Denton's description of
Waterloo. " From what I had heard of it," he writes, " I expected
to see a well-formed town, but it exceeded my expectations both in
appearance and size : it hes in an open plain, and its streets are laid



Digitized by



Google



TEMPERANCE MOVEMENT AT RSOENT*S TOWN. 577

out uniformly, and with taste. I was more especially pleased with the
view of the Church. In its whole appearance it struck me as the
most sacred-looking edifice in the mission, surrounded hy a neat fence,
enclosing ahout half an acre of ground thickly covered with rich green
grass ; and much to the credit of Mr. Frey, there is now a neat and
convenient cottage for the accommodation of a missionary."

Concerning Mr. Denton*s own charge at Kent, it is most gratifying
to record the following opinion of a laborer just arrived in the Colony,
Mr. W. Parkins, who landed at Freetown on the 30th of November,
and thus writes under date of 7th December.

" Assisted Brother Denton in the performance of Divine Service at
Begent. I was particularly struck with the great number of attendant
worshippers, their responses and marked attention, as well as their be-
coming reverence in the house of God. It being Sacrament Sunday, I
was again agreeably surprised to behold so great a portion of the con-
gregation remain to partake of the holy communion of the body and
blood of Christ. I have visited many churches in England, when the
Sacrament has been administered, but never saw so great a majority of
its members partake at one time of that holy supper. Truly the Lord
has greatly blessed the labours of his servants, by gathering so many
from the heathen, we trust, into the fold of Christ."

As an evidence of the godly discipline which Mr. Denton was ena-
bled to exercise over his flock, we may mention his successinl exer-
tions to obviate the mischief with which Regent was threatened from
the opening of a rum-shop in the town, by a colony-bom youth, who
had hired for the purpose the cellar of one of the communicants. Mr.
Denton finding that the proper license had been obtained, and that the
opening of the shop could not be prevented, thought that at least he
might persuade his people not to purchase the rum. He accordingly
sent for his class-leaders, pointed out to them the evil, and requested
them earnestly to caution the people. " In my intercourse," proceeds
Mr. Denton, " with the people among my own classes and in my dis-
courses, I failed not to say dl I possibly could against it, and I was
glad to find in a few days that the whole town was as much opposed
to it as myself. Considerable interest prevailed on the subject for a
fortnight, and as a proof how deeply it was felt, I may mention that in
all their benefit-companies a fine was imposed on any of their members
who should be detected purchasing rum at that shop. The communi-
cant who, for the love of money, let him the ceUar, at my request also
gave him notice to quit at the expiration of three months ; but the
young man has long since left the town, and the shop has been closed.'
We think we hear many a minister in Christian Britain exclaiming,
" Oh that we possessed so salutary a control over the conduct of our
people ! "

w 2 p



Digitized by



Google



578 CIU'RCU MISSION IN SIERRA LEONE.

We have before referred to the Christian benefit-companies men-
tioned in this extract ; the heathen part of the community had adopted
the principle, bnt carried it out, it may well be believed, in a very dif-
ferent manner ; as an instance, we select a case from Mr. GraTs Jonnul
at Hastings. A heathen man died in that village who had belonged to
three relief companies, as they were called. " The following partica-
lars," writes Mr. Graf, "will show what kind of assistance they gave
the poor widow ; one of these companies provided for the coffin and
burial ; the second gave the widow 20s. and the third 10s. as presents,
as they call it ; but in return for these kind offices, the poor woman
was obliged, during the seven nights^ wake following the burial, to
provide supper and rum for each of the three companies, beside getting
food for visitors from other villages ; and on the last night of the week,
she had to prepare a feast for the companies, strangers, and any neigh-
bours who chose to come ; and, when the poor woman had spent 10s.
over and above the pecuniary assistance received, they insolently in-
sisted on her getting several more bottles of rum, and when the wake
was over, complained of the woman's niggardly conduct." Verily, we
may add, the tender mercies of the wicked are cruel !

The subject of admitting candidates to baptism seems most properly
to have drawn forth all Mr. Grafs energies of mind and body ; he
would not accept the clearest expression of scripture views, unless
thoroughly satisfied on the point of personal character ; and hence he
made himself intimately acqufdnted with the individual history of every
communicant and candidate under his care, and exercised the strictest
discipline in admitting them to the ordinances of the church. With
his sentiments on this subject we most heartily concur. " If," he says,
" the church be, as considered by some, a kind of spiritual or ecclesias-
tical hospital, which flourishes in proportion to the number of patients
it admits, then I confess having used considerable strictness ; but if the
church be a ' company of faithful men,' or if this be the standard to
be aimed at, I believe in that case I have acted with considerable kind-
ness and liberality." Mr. Graf and his excellent partner set their faces
like a flint against the love of dress, so prominent in the African cha-
racter, and which is continually intruding itself into the schools, and
especially into the churches of the Colony, in spite of every effort of the
missionaries to exclude it. Mr. Graf took a great interest in the
girls' school, where every species of usefol sewing was taught ; his
notion being that " what most concerns the African is that he should
be uaefully'tninded — as in sewing," he says, " so in dress, I banish all
finery from the school. I also stick," he adds, '^ to the rule that tidi-
ness and cleanliness are next to godliness, and therefore am in the
habit generally once a week, of reviewing the children at school, and



Digitized by



Google



CONTRIBUTIONS PRAYER-MEETlNOS. 579

sending home all dirty and broken clothes to be mended at the sewing-
S€2hool, whereby the girls get another usefiil lesson, viz. mending."

The fimds of the '' reUef-company " at Hastings had accumulated
in three years to ^78, including some extra contributions, while the
disbursements in the same period had not exceeded £38; besides which
the members had a stock of articles, used at burials, on hand for several
years, and also a good velvet pall, so that the company was in a flou-
rishing condition, and could contemplate in course of time the institu-
tion of such local charities as a hospital, school of industry. Orphan
Asylum &c., over and above what was contributed to the Church Mis-
sionary and Bible Societies.

As r^ards church attendance here, we can only quote one sentence
from Mr. Grafs Journal. " To see the people at church really enjoy
the word, and open their eyes and mouths to catch its meaning — ^that
cheers the heart and refreshes the spirit."

This station had contributed to the Church Missionary Society in
four years the sum of ^50 including £S : 14 : 4. of extra collec-
tions for the Yoruba Mission and Fourah Bay Institution.

Together with all these favourable indications, there was much sin
and inconsistency at Hastings — of this Mr. Graf makes free mention
in his Journal, and says that he was enabled to encounter it with all
boldness, no man questioning his authority to do so.

Kissey continued to afford encouragement to the faithful men with



Online LibrarySamuel Abraham WalkerThe Church of England mission in Sierra Leone: including an introductory ... → online text (page 71 of 73)